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First Quarter 2021 Reading

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7 hours ago, Peadar said:

You are welcome! I follow the guy on twitter too -- lots of interesting stuff in his feed, usually.

I'll look for him, though I don't do twitter, beyond others sending me twitter links to look at.  More often than not, I look at these, and go, "Huh?" having no idea at all what the point is. Unless videos of cute lil baby elephants afraid to cross a tiny ditch with a tiny rivulet of water, while all the adult elephants cluster around saying over and over, "It's OK, you CAN do it, it's nothing!" and comforting the fearful baby with trunk pattings.

Among the fascinations of British imperium history are how many figures served it, successively, in such far flung parts of the globe.  During their careers they fought in the Caribbean, fought on North America, in India, and -- maybe, if they lived long enough, China too, surviving not only blades and bullets and shipwreck, but malaria and many other infections.  Not to mention gout and tooth decay.  Those 18th and 19th century people were tougher than we can ever imagine, no matter how much of a private arsenal we may boast of owning, and that applies as often to the rich and powerful as well as those less fortunate.  Even Thomas Jefferson, to go anywhere, rode endless miles in the snow and dark, and found no food in the shelter he might finally arrive at, as a matter of course.  (And I really don't admire TJ, you know?  :D )

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Finished The Return of Sherlock Holmes. As I noted earlier, I'm reading the Holmes stories in order (so that's six down, three to go), and though the collection was very solid, it is noticeable that Conan Doyle is starting to recycle plots. Blue Carbuncle/Six Napoleans and Naval Treaty/Second Stain are the ones that stand out.

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Realized upon trying to start book 2 of the Book of Dust that it is actually set after the Golden Compass trilogy (thanks to the helpful author's note!). So guess I'm doing that re-read now after all! 

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Inkheart was great, but I didn't expect it to be a series, coincidentally a trilogy being revived 

Paulo Coelho is a legend. Veronika decides to die proves once again 

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I'm reading The Fall of Koli the last book in Mike Carey's very enjoyable post apocalyptic trilogy.

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23 hours ago, Zorral said:

...Among the fascinations of British imperium history are how many figures served it, successively, in such far flung parts of the globe.  During their careers they fought in the Caribbean, fought on North America, in India, and -- maybe, if they lived long enough, China too, surviving not only blades and bullets and shipwreck, but malaria and many other infections.  Not to mention gout and tooth decay.  Those 18th and 19th century people were tougher than we can ever imagine, no matter how much of a private arsenal we may boast of owning, and that applies as often to the rich and powerful as well as those less fortunate.  Even Thomas Jefferson, to go anywhere, rode endless miles in the snow and dark, and found no food in the shelter he might finally arrive at, as a matter of course.  (And I really don't admire TJ, you know?  :D )

So true.  We may read Flashman and all the following novels and think that it is just humorous historical fiction.  But then when you consider Gordon or Burton, et al, then their respective lives are just as wild as anything George MacDonald Fraser ever wrote.  

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19 hours ago, Starkess said:

Realized upon trying to start book 2 of the Book of Dust that it is actually set after the Golden Compass trilogy (thanks to the helpful author's note!). So guess I'm doing that re-read now after all! 

You might also want to read the short Lyra's Oxford after the trilogy if you haven't read it before since there are some references to it in The Secret Commonwealth, although it's not essential.

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Finished The Valley of Fear. Structured more or less like A Study in Scarlet, it is really two novellas jammed together. While I know full-well that Conan Doyle loathed Holmes by this point, and it makes sense that he'd try to experiment via using Holmes as a framing device for a different story, it is highly frustrating to the reader. One reads Sherlock Holmes stories to read about Sherlock Holmes, not about melodramas set in what Conan Doyle thought the USA was like.

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

I don't know if this is the right place to ask, but has anyone read the Raven's Shadow series by Anthony Ryan? Is it worth checking out?

Blood Song is incredible. If you read the series and just stick with that book as a standalone, you'll be thrilled as it's impossible to put down. Tower Lord is meh as he was pushed to expand the POVs and they didn't really work. Queen of Fire is a dumpster fire.

Wolf's Blade and Black Song, a duology set in the same world, was pretty good though. He did a good job learning from his mistakes in Tower Lord/Queen of Fire.

Edited by Mexal

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On 3/13/2021 at 10:26 AM, Tywin et al. said:

I finished The Handmaid's Tale yesterday. What a disturbing book, and yet, it sucks you in and you can't stop reading. It's structure takes a minute to get used to as it bounces all over the place, but once you get it the read is a delight. I'm never going to read it again, but I'm glad that I did. Kind of curious how they've gotten four seasons now out of this book though. 

Anyways, I have an ambitious six or so weeks, aiming to read each of these before the start of May:

I highly recommend The Field of Blood if you like Civil War era history books. Evil Geniuses is pretty good too so far, focusing on a century later.

Moby Dick is honestly not that fun to read, but I'm still in the beginning stages of it.

 

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26 minutes ago, Mexal said:

Blood Song is incredible. If you read the series and just stick with that book as a standalone, you'll be thrilled as it's impossible to put down.

It has insane ratings on both Goodreads and Amazon, so I'll probably give it a shot. 

Overall, there is so much epic fantasy out there, and you don't really know what's worth your time.

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26 minutes ago, Takiedevushkikakzvezdy said:

It has insane ratings on both Goodreads and Amazon, so I'll probably give it a shot. 

Overall, there is so much epic fantasy out there, and you don't really know what's worth your time.

I've read it twice; it was that good for me. 

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Posted (edited)

Well my Q1 reads show I’m not very current, but in my defense I’m working through a lot of books that either I or my wife already have. Out with the old before in with the new! 

finished:

McGuire - The North Water 
O’Neil - A History of Heavy Metal 
Redfield - The Celestine Prophecy  
Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey 
Pratchett - Going Postal 
Lee - AI Superpowers 
Bryson - A Walk in the Woods

In various states of completion:

Pratchett - Thud! 
Clarke - Fountains of Paradise

Out of these The North Water is probably the one I enjoyed the most. Pretty straightforward plot, interesting story, well told. Would read McGuire again if I can remember to look and see if he’s written anything else after I clear a few more off the shelves at home. The only one in this crop I did not really like is The Celestine Prophecy which was just kinda wtf and I only grabbed because of its relative brevity and pretty high ratings on Amazon. It really felt like a New Age religious pamphlet thinly wrapped in a story. Didn’t like it at all, though I did finish it. It’s definitely going in the donation pile.

Edited by S John

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18 hours ago, The Marquis de Leech said:

Finished The Valley of Fear...melodramas set in what Conan Doyle thought the USA was like.

Ha - nice turn of phrase.

Valley of Fear always makes me think of Tintin in America (or Tintin in Congo) for that exact reason.

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On 3/28/2021 at 3:02 PM, williamjm said:

 

  Reveal hidden contents

I think the more confusing bit is that as

@ljkeane points out they seem to be able to travel to the alien planet in a couple of days from the colony which either suggests they have some sort of FTL travel for their ships that never gets mentioned or it is in the same system, which would seem weird.

 

Jumpgates are often conveniently close to planets, because reasons, and it is possible to get to the other planet in a day or two of "sublight travel", since the jump itsefl is instataneous, but it doesn't explain the instant communication which seems a different thing.

 

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Finished Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub last night. 

Lem was one of the famous science fiction authors I hadn't read yet and wanted to read something of before I died. Not sure I made the right choice from Lem's work to start with -- this book is a satire on bureaucracy, with the narrator trapped in a Building which runs his nation and where everyone is communicating by incomprensible doublespeak. Well written, but a bit too weird for my taste. I wonder if the rest of Lem's books are anything like it. 

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24 minutes ago, Ormond said:

Finished Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub last night. 

Lem was one of the famous science fiction authors I hadn't read yet and wanted to read something of before I died. Not sure I made the right choice from Lem's work to start with -- this book is a satire on bureaucracy, with the narrator trapped in a Building which runs his nation and where everyone is communicating by incomprensible doublespeak. Well written, but a bit too weird for my taste. I wonder if the rest of Lem's books are anything like it. 

I've only read Solaris by him, and I don't recall much of it except that it was quite weird.

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Posted (edited)

Edit : It's not Q1 any more, I've started a new thread.

Edited by williamjm

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